A staggering 100,000 children in Kolkata, India, are street children, living with no shelter. Add to this the children whose only shelter is plastic sheeting or makeshift shacks in the slums, and the number reaches 250,000. They do not have clean water, they are often hungry and disease runs rampant.
To survive, children scavenge in rubbish dumps to find scraps to sell or beg on the streets. Most are not in school and have poor health. Many children are abandoned and are at high risk of abuse, exploitation and child trafficking.
The slums and streets offer little protection from emotional, physical, mental, economic and sexual abuse. The Hope Foundation works inside the slums and on the streets to get to these children and offer them a brighter future. We offer protection to those without a family, provide education within the communities as well as healthcare to those turned away from state hospitals. We also work on the front line of the battle against human trafficking and the child sex trade, with anti-trafficking projects, and emergency response crisis units for children abandoned or working in the sex trade.
Our goal is to give children back their childhoods so they thrive and can graduate to adulthood with a good education, employable skills and a sense of self-worth. In its first 16 years The Hope Foundation has assisted over 100,000 children from the streets and slums of Kolkata.
Only 5% of young Indians have vocational skills, compared with 80% in some European countries. Without skills and education, the prospects of young people in the slums of Kolkata are bleak, and they are likely to spend the rest of their lives as unskilled workers in the informal labour market.
In India, girls are further disadvantaged by a society that favours boys. As a result, while three quarters of boys in India can read or write; only half of girls can.
The Life Skills project provides more than 300 young people every year with skills and education in catering, tailoring and computing. Those in the centre receive not only vocational training in one of the three areas, but also in mathematics and English. The project also gives 150 of these young people work experience both in The Hope Foundation and also Kolkata businesses. HOPE works to encourage girls taking part in the Life Skills Centre project, with 60% of students being girls.
This wouldn’t be possible without the help of our beneficiaries, volunteers, & supporters and we would like to request the CWC to give high priority to maintain the balance.